Last week, I described what a content audit is and explained its role in a B2B buyer persona focused content marketing strategy. This week, I will explain how to set-up a content audit and provide a couple tool recommendations to help you with this process.

Content Audit Stamp

How to Set up a Content Audit

I. Content Inventory

You first need to take inventory of all relevant content. Cataloging your content can take a long time, as it is typically (at least in part) a manual task. Depending on how your website is built, you may be able to leverage a plug-in to assist in cataloging your company’s online content. For example, if your website is powered by WordPress, the following plug-in can help you in putting this content inventory together: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/content-audit/.

Similarly, for offline content, you can use the MS-DOS command line to identify and map the content in your company’s intranet files. This is not as user friendly, but it essentially can create the same information for you for offline content. To do this, you will want to use the directory command (dir) to list the contents of all offline content directories. The following DOS command line syntax can be used to do this: dir [File path] /w. For example, to map the content folder in the D drive on my computer, I would type CMD into the search bar to cal up the command window. Then, write “dir D:\Content\ /w” into the command line and press enter. Here is a reference on how to write other directory commands to help automate the inventory phase of your audit: http://www.computerhope.com/overview.htm.

It is advisable to capture content from other channels, so you can see how it fits into the bigger picture.

In putting together this content inventory, you will want to capture the following information:

  • Content ID: A unique ID for each piece of content
  • Format: The type of content (i.e. video, blog, whitepaper, etc.)
  • Author: Author of the content
  • Folder/parent: This is where the content lives offline or online
  • Owner: Current owner of the content
  • Date last modified
  • Comments

II. Content Audit

Once you have a comprehensive catalog of the company’s content, now you are ready to collect the information necessary to evaluate each piece of content and the library as a whole. To do so, you will want to collect the following information via Google Analytics, some additional offline and online statistics, and a content manager or editor item by item review and evaluation.

The content should be evaluated as a whole to evaluate the following:

  • Coverage: Coverage analysis identifies the strength and weakness areas in your content library, content that is ready to be put to pasture, and gaps that need to be filled. The content matrix is a valuable tool to use in this evaluation, as it helps map each content theme to the company’s overall go-to-market strategy.
  • Difficulty to Navigate: Navigatability of the content online. Lost content has no value and can sometimes come off as worthless content even though it is buried and can’t be found. For this reason, it is important to evaluate site navigatability and overall SEO effectiveness as a website.

Each content item should be evaluated across the following criteria:

  • Target Audience/Buyer Persona: This is the person the content is intended to influence.
  • Target Segment: This is the segment of the market the content is intended to influence.
  • Targeted Stage(s) in Buyer Journey: This is the stage or stages the content item is intended to correspond/apply to in the go-to-market strategy.
  • Content Relevance: The fit of a given article in terms of content and audience. This is a subjective evaluation done by the content manager or one of the content editors. For a buyer persona focused content strategy, this should be gauged in reference to the content matrix and what is needed to effectively support a company’s go-to-market strategy. This measurement is best done in terms of a non-numeric fit measurement like Very Strong, Strong, Medium, Weak, and Very Weak. A more involved content audit would break down the evaluation into sub-criteria. Before assigning these values a team member must be familiar with the entire portfolio of content and the content matrix. Otherwise, his or her perspective could be very misleading and/or biased.
  • Reach (Influence): The number of potential customers your company could influence, educate, or interact with either directly or indirectly via a single piece of content. This is a numeric measure of reach. Google analytics can be used to access page views for online content. Other data like call back rates or response rates for offline content can be used a s a metric. For more ideas on what metrics you can use to evaluate content during the audit, I recommend reading my blog post on how to design a marketing channel prioritization scheme as it provides a comprehensive list of reach metrics for you to choose from.
  • Cost (Resources, Time): What would be the human capital and resource cost of re-working the content to effectively utilize a given marketing channel?
  • Effectiveness: What is the relative effectiveness of this piece of content? Could it be improved upon via re-working? What is the marginal return for this effort? Is it worth more than investing that time in developing new content?
  • Why is it effective/ineffective? What are the drivers behind the assessment?
  • Is it SEO optimized? Has the site been optimized to make it discoverable? This can be measured by percentage of traffic that is received via search engine versus direct navigation.
  • Has it been repurposed? What other content is related to this item? Is there an opportunity to get additional bang out of this content? If so, what other content is related in this way?

III. Analysis

A simple spreadsheet can be used to capture this information and make it easy to analyze, or you can build off of a content inventory platform like the WordPress plug-in referenced earlier. Regardless of where you collect the information, the analysis of the data is generally best done in excel.

At the end of the analysis, you should have:

  • An overall assessment of the coverage, health, and effectiveness of your content library
  • A stage-by-stage evaluation of the coverage and effectiveness of content for each stage of the target buyer persona journeys
  • A better understanding of what has made various content items more effective than others, so that you can imitate the approach down the road
  • A decision on which content to archive and which content could be repurposed, so that it can be prioritized via a content matrix evaluation

Now you are ready to launch a content audit. Best of luck to you!

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